Maybe you have one already. If you can’t remember, just have a root around the less explored parts of your hard disk & you’ll find it gathering dust somewhere.
If it’s not there, check at the very bottom of that huge pile of papers where you keep documents that you think may come in handy some time. It’ll be there with a slight yellowish, sepia tint to the paper.
That’s the problem – most Marketing Plans are all so lifeless & boring. They talk about stuff that doesn’t really bear any reality to what you are trying to achieve. Maybe you recognize some of these terms. You know the problem with these types of plans? They are too theoretical & as a result they are far too removed from the one person that you should really be focused on….
Let’s think about it – ultimately a human being will make a decision about whether to use the products or the services that you offer.
My Ultimate “Fill in the Blanks” Marketing Plan will enable you to identify this person as closely as possible.
If you prefer a printable pdf version, you can find it here.
Once you know this then you will be able to tailor your website and your marketing MESSAGE as closely as possible to their needs.
Before we start, let’s briefly examine what the Ultimate “Fill in the Blanks” Marketing Plan will allow you to do. It will allow you to:
- Develop an understanding of the demographic of your Ideal Client
- Understand how much they are prepared to pay you for your product or service
- Determine how long it takes them to decide to buy your product or service
- Calculate how much their business is worth to your business in the long term
- Understand their Biggest Issue and how you can solve this problem
- Identify the benefits of your product or service
- State the main features of your product of service
- Understand your customers’ main objections and how to address them
- Overcome indifference to your company
- Create a powerful ‘no brainer’ guarantee
- Identify your Unique Selling Point
- Identify where you fit into your customer’s Purchasing Timeline
- Identify who your key partners and suppliers are (or who they should be)
- Demonstrate feedback from happy customers
- Identify your Referral Process
- Create a Free Gift for prospects
- Create a powerful Call to Action for prospective customers
- Identify upselling opportunities
- Identify your Welcome Process for new customers
Below are a number of straightforward questions that will enable you to create your very own Ultimate “Fill in the Blanks” Marketing Plan. You just need to answer them & make a note of them – use the pdf download here if you prefer.
Once you have answered these question you just need to enter them into a document that we call the “Letter of Letters” which can be found at http://www.pickaweb.co.uk/files/letterofletters.pdf
The Letter of Letters is one of the most powerful documents you will ever create for your business. It will give you a clear insight into your customers and it will form the basis of a Powerful Marketing Plan for your business.
There are two very important points to consider with your Letter of Letters:
1. This is an INTERNAL DOCUMENT – for your eyes only. It is NOT to be sent to your customers! It is a powerful tool intended to allow you to create a powerful marketing plan for your business. As we progress you will find it an invaluable reference tool.
2. It is also is a LIVING DOCUMENT. You will probably not get it EXACTLY right first time round. Keep an electronic copy to hand though and update it as you get inspiration or as you discover something new.
You can find the blank Letter of Letters here.
Most people will not know the exact answers to these questions. That is fine. This is not a scientific process. If you do not know the answer you should make an educated guess, but you must make sure that you complete every step.
To be honest there are probably thousands of things that you could analyse, but we want to just focus in on the main issues.
First, we need you to identify whether you are selling to Consumers (Business to Consumer or B2C) or to other businesses (Business to Business or B2B).
We understand that there are some businesses who sell to both the general public & to businesses. If that is the case we want you to focus on your Ideal Customer, i.e. who is it that you really want to be your customer.
To get started, please answer the following questions & enter your responses in the “Letter of Letters” at http://www.pickaweb.co.uk/files/letterofletters.pdf
As you go through provide as much information as possible. Some questions may only relate to B2C and some will only relate to B2B. These are clearly marked and there is no need to answer if these if they do not relate to you.
Let’s get started!
Is your Ideal Customer male or female? If you are clearly selling to a particular gender please specify this here.
Try to specify their age. It doesn’t have to be exact – an approximation will do, eg: between 35 – 40 years old.
Where do they live? UK, US, Spain, overseas, North, South, in a particular town, city, postcode? If you sell nationwide you can just say the country. Is it within a number of miles or kilometres from your premises?
Are status symbols important to them? A car is an appropriate metaphor for this. Do they prefer the basic hatchback, a luxury saloon or a sporty convertible?
(B2C Only) MARRIED STATUS
Single, married, divorced? State it here.
(B2C Only) NUMBER CHILDREN
Is family important to them with all the responsibility (& costs) that this entails? Are you selling a product or service that families are more likely to need?
Part time, full time, manager, executive?
(B2C Only) YEARS IN JOB
How ambitious is your ideal customer?
(B2C Only) SALARY
Estimate their monthly salary after tax.
(B2C Only) DISPOSABLE INCOME
How much can they spend each month?
(B2C Only) HOLIDAY REGION
Where do they go on holiday? Beach, forest, mountains? Europe, Far East, Africa? Our choice of destination says a lot about us.
(B2C Only) PREFERRED HOLIDAY
Adventure, Camping, cycling, scuba diving, on the beach, resort, all inclusive, sailing, family? The type of holiday we choose probably says even more.
Degree, Masters, PHD, no formal qualifications?
Is your ideal customer an entrepreneur who has founded their own company or are they an employee?
(B2B Only) £/$/€ ANNUAL TURNOVER
What is the profile of this company? Are they start up, SME, Corporate?
(B2B Only) NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES
How many employees do they have? Is it a sole proprietor, 2 to 5, 6 to 10 or are they a large corporation. It is important to estimate this as best you can.
(B2B Only) LIST OF MARKETS
What markets does your Ideal Customer operate in? The more specific you can make it, the better. If you can’t be that precise then try to identify which segment, eg: manufacturing. If that proves difficult to do then focus on whether they serve business customers or retail customers, i.e. the general public.
Is your product or service a “big ticket” item such as machinery or equipment or just another monthly expense? Are they likely to need to seek approval or spend a long time considering this cost? The higher the cost the longer the timeframe is likely to be (see DECISION TIMEFRAME below).
State your primary product or service here.
Use your experience to estimate how long it typically takes your Ideal Customer to make up their mind. Is it after a 5 minute phone conversation or does it take weeks or months?
LIFETIME CLIENT VALUE
What is the Lifetime Value of a customer to your business? How often do they return to you to purchase additional products or services and how much do they spend? How often do they typically remain as customers of your business? You need to consider these points and start to answer these questions because repeat business is absolutely critical to any business.
It is really a bit of a guesstimate to calculate, but here goes:
Average profit per transaction x no. of transactions per year x no. years.
Let’s use a hairdresser as an example. Imagine that a lady visits the salon once a month, and the average profit is £50 (OK, we understand, but it is a posh salon). She also gets a manicure, buys a bottle of shampoo and conditioner etc. and she has been a faithful client for five years.
Let us find the Lifetime Value of this client to date:
£50 x 12 visits a year x 5 years = £3,000
But that is only part of the story. This lady has her network of friends, and she has referred at least four of them in that time. Let us factor that in at the same rate for each friend (assuming that they have been coming each month, for two years on average):
£50 x 12 visits x 2 years x 4 friends = £4,800
So, this client is suddenly worth nearly £8,000 to your business (i.e. £3,000 for the lady plus £4,800 for her friends), in terms of profit.
Once you know your Lifetime Value, you are in a much more informed position, when it comes to deciding your marketing budget.
This is crucial. What you may think is the greatest feature of your product may not be what motivates people to actually buy it. You need to stand in the shoes of your customer.
What are they really looking for? For example, are they more focused on the amazing reports that your company’s accounting software produces? Or are they more concerned that they are losing financial control of their business as it starts to grow.
Try to think of issues such as control, credibility, growth, competition, regulation, uncertainty. These are things that keep people awake at night. If you are selling to Consumers then convenience, desire for change, self-esteem, desired transformation, etc. should all be considered.
Now that you have started to consider their BIGGEST ISSUE you can start to prioritise their needs. In the above example you may conclude that their main need is a way to get on top of their company finances quickly.
It would be extremely strange if your Ideal Customer only had one need. Give it some thought and you should be able to find several other crucial points.
AGITATE THE PROBLEM
You need to stir up the problem that your customer is facing. Now that you have defined their BIGGEST ISSUE & their MAIN NEED & SECONDARY NEEDS you have an understanding of what REALLY concerns them.
Now exaggerate the issue & if you can, try to use examples to back this up. What is the logical conclusion of their BIGGEST ISSUE? Less customers, more stress, less time, loss of control, losing ground to competitors, going out of business? It is your duty to spell unambiguously the consequences of not taking action to remedy this.
OFFER THE SOLUTION
Here comes the Cavalry – with you leading the way! You have identified the BIGGEST ISSUE that your client faces & you have AGITATED THE PROBLEM and taken it to its logical conclusion.
Now you need to present a better future with you of course central to the successful resolution of the issue. Your aim is to create a mental picture of your Ideal Customer addressing their BIGGEST ISSUE by using your product or service. No need for the details, we’ll come on to that in a moment.
PRIMARY BENEFIT: Now that you understand the MAIN NEED it should be quite straightforward to identify the PRIMARY BENEFIT that you can offer. Match it as closely as possible to the MAIN NEED. If they need control then you need to tell them unequivocally that you will allow them to quickly gain control.
Do not confuse your PRIMARY BENEFIT with USEFUL FEATURES (see below). Whereas a “Lightweight, titanium chassis” may be a key feature, the real benefit is “40% Lower fuel costs”.
Take Steve Jobs, a master at selling the benefits. Whenever he launched Apple’s latest product the headline wasn’t the type of materials used or the amount of memory or the colours available.
Tell them about the outcome that they can expect once they have used your product or service. You are trying to engage emotionally with them here. Try to get them to imagine a “better future” for themselves.
Speak actively to your Ideal Customer by telling them what the results will be when they use your product or service. In the space below, list the key features of your products or service in the left hand column & then translate each one into a warm benefit on the right hand side. Choose the best one as your PRIMARY BENEFIT.
|Eg: Lightweight, titanium chassis||Results in||40% Lower fuel costs|
As with needs, it would be strange indeed if you can only identify one single benefit for your product or service. Here is your chance to talk of ease of use, practicality, time saving, efficiency, etc..
Maybe there are additional uses of your product or service that your Ideal Customer is not aware of. This is your opportunity to demonstrate the flexibility and adaptability of your product or service. For example, there are many health and fitness products which can be used for a variety different exercises. Avoid assuming that your client is aware of this. Bring them to their attention so that they can clearly see these extra uses.
If your product or service has OTHER USES then these will inevitably lead on to a whole range of improvements for your Ideal Customer. Here you can spell them out for them. Often people may not even have considered these, but you know your product inside out and this is your chance to demonstrate these additional benefits.
USEFUL FEATURES: Once you have introduced the benefits to your Ideal Customer they will want to find out more. By listing the USEFUL FEATURES you can address the more logical aspects of the decision making process.
PRIMARY OBJECTION: We understand that people have objections – it’s all part and parcel of doing business. Think hard about your experiences of selling your product or services & list the biggest single objection that you hear.
OTHER OBJECTIONS: After the PRIMARY OBJECTION there will be other smaller issues that you will be familiar with and which are frequently raised. State them here, even if there is a list of them.
OVERCOME PRIMARY OBJECTION: Rather than trying to meet fire with fire look for opportunities to expand on your benefits. Often cost is a primary issue and if it is raised you can explain the typical return on investment that they can expect. The objective is not to play “objection tennis” where you are just trying to wear your customer down, but rather to address these up front so that you are aware of them.
OVERCOME OTHER OBJECTIONS: If complexity is an issue you can explain about your integration services & after care support. If you offer computer systems and downtime is an issue, explain your no downtime guarantee. Training? You have a 6 month coaching team ready & waiting. The point is to try to consider every possible objection so that you are prepared and credible.
COMPETITOR 1, COMPETITOR 2, COMPETITOR 3. Who are you main competitors? Let’s bring them into the picture and see where you have the advantage over them.
|COMPETITOR 1||COMPETITOR 2||COMPETITOR 3|
Possibly the single biggest reason that customers will leave you is indifference – they just never hear from you!
Are you keeping in contact with them?
Are you focused on helping them to address their BIGGEST ISSUE & their MAIN NEEDS?
This could be in the form of industry news, products updates, new developments, latest features, examples of best practice, related products or services that may be of interest. Are you emailing, sending a newsletter or a free gift maybe?
This is not an opportunity to keep sending out price lists or catalogues, but rather to keep your customers fully up to date & just to remind them that you are there & you are on top of your game.
Outline a plan of action with some ideas for the next 3 months below. Please note we will be coming back to this in subsequent months. For now, just sketch some ideas out to get you thinking about this.
|Month||Title||Medium||Ideas for Content|
|1||Eg: Newsletter||Post||Eg: How this customer used Widget to grow their business, Widget User feature, The history of widgets|
|2||Eg: Industry News||Eg: Latest widget industry news, Widget Regulation|
|3||Eg: Live Event||Live Event||Eg: Quarterly Widget Users Mastermind Group|
Do you have a powerful, irresistible, “no brainer” guarantee that will put your Ideal Customer’s mind at rest? If not you need to create one.
Obviously for higher value products or complex services this needs to be backed up by your legal obligations but for smaller value items the longer the better. You need to factor in returns and refunds, but the point is that you need to consider that a rock solid guarantee is a powerful motivator to purchase.
This is the KEY to your success. EVERY business has a UNIQUE SELLING POINT otherwise you are just “another” supplier in the minds of your prospects. What is it that you do that makes you different from the competition?
Why should your Ideal Customer buy from you and not from COMPETITOR 1, COMPETITOR 2 or COMPETITOR 3?
Do you provide life insurance policies or do you help your customers to achieve lifelong financial independence?
Are you a small independent hotel or a Secret Romantic Retreat?
Are you a Printer or do you help small businesses to look like big businesses?
Imagine you are at a party & you are introduced to someone you have never met. They ask what you do. Do you tell them your job title and bore them to death?
Why not tell them what you do in terms of the results that you can deliver. Use your PRIMARY & SECONDARY BENEFITS to help you.
You may not hit on it immediately, but over time it will come to you.
You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep.
The same is true in business. If you use SUPPLIERS who are household names or industry leaders here is the place to draw attention to this important fact. Make a list of your key SUPPLIERS here.
Likewise, the PARTNERS that you choose to work with will play a vital in your long term success. The reason that this is crucial & often overlooked is that your partners present you with a way to intercept your Ideal Customer’s purchasing timeline.
For example, if you are a wedding photographer are you the first person people call when they decide to get married?
In most cases the starting point will be the jeweller, or the hotel/venue. The reality is that you are way down the list of suppliers and at some point they will probably ask one of the other suppliers if they can recommend a photographer.
Think about the purchasing timeline & see where you fit in. If you find yourself way down the line, you URGENTLY need to find partners closer to the decision making point who can introduce your products or service.
Use the following grid to map this out as best you can. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have them right now, just write down the order of the purchasing timeline and identify the gaps and mark “To be Identified”.
Over time you will fill in the spaces.
|Purchasing Timeline (eg: get married)||Supplied by||Partner Name|
|Buy ring||Jeweller||Name of Jeweller|
|Identify Venue||Hotel||Name of Hotel or “To be Identified”|
|Bridal Dress||Dress Supplier||To be Identified|
A genuine testimonial provides powerful proof that you can deliver what you say you can deliver. Be sure to ask for testimonials. If you are not comfortable using that term you could call it “Customer Feedback”, “Case Studies”, “Customer Profiles”, “Customer Spotlight” or even “Customer Interviews”.
The important point is that if you don’t ask for them you may not get them. They will play an important role in demonstrating your credibility.
One note of caution – never fake testimonials – you can spot them a mile off.
If you can get video testimonials then these are the most powerful & persuasive form of testimonial that you can use. They are the closest thing to Testimonial Nirvana.
Include your best testimonial.
TESTIMONIAL PERSON 2
As above. Try not to rely on just one testimonial as it can look stale after a while.
As above. Include as many as you feel you need. If you have multiple products or services look for testimonials related to them wherever possible.
Are you actively seeking referrals from happy customers? If not you should create a referral process as this is a quick way to grow ANY business.
Most businesses are very poor at asking for referrals, but it can be a remarkably easy process. When is the right time to ask for a referral? Whenever you have a happy customer in front of you or as soon as possible after they have purchased from you.
Can you think of something that you can give to your Ideal Customer as a Free Gift? Could it be a report, a book, maybe a trial of your product or service? Reports are a great way to build credibility in the minds of your prospects.
If you write a report the title must immediately spur interest in the mind of your Ideal Customer. You are already 95% of the way there, believe it or not. By identifying their BIGGEST ISSUE and their MAIN & SECONDARY NEEDS you have virtually written that report.
A note of caution: Your Company Brochure is NOT a Free Gift – it is a sales tool. Your Free Gift must be of VALUE in that it should allow them to try your product or service or it should educate them ad build trust in you.
TITLE OF REPORT
Now it needs a compelling title to spark their interest. Would they be interested in “The 7 Steps to Achieving MAIN NEED” or maybe they would be interested to learn “How to Avoid BIGGEST ISSUE & Improve MAIN NEED”. Be as creative as you can, but avoid boring titles. Give them a Compelling reason to want that report.
CALL TO ACTION
We’ve come this far. You know all about your Ideal Customer. You understand what makes them tick, what they fear & what they really need.
You have addressed their objections, provided proof that you can deliver. You have even wrapped this all up in a great, free report that they are going to love.
What are you waiting for, tell them what they need to do next!
Your CALL TO ACTION should tell them clearly & exactly what they need to do & how they can either take things further or access this amazing report.
Do they phone you, fill in a form on your website, email you? You need to tell them EXACTLY what they need to do & when they need to do it by.
Would you like Large or Extra Large? Whatever you may think about upselling, it is an accepted method of quickly & easily generating substantial extra profits.
What opportunities do you have to upsell either your products or services or those of a partner? If you have your client there in front of you, ready to make a purchase, why not suggest something extra.
What happens when someone becomes a customer? Are they just sent your PRODUCT/SERVICE or do they receive something over and above this?
Do you have a WELCOME PROCESS that is both unexpected and welcomed?
You don’t necessarily need to send them a bunch of red roses, but maybe you have some low cost, high value items that will help your customer to address their BIGGEST ISSUE.
For example, can you include offers or discounts from your PARTNERS. These won’t necessarily cost you anything but they will be perceived as being of high value to your customer (& PARTNERS)
The Letter of Letters
Once you have answered all of the questions you just need to fill in the blanks of your Letter of Letters in the appropriate places.
You can find a pdf version at: http://www.pickaweb.co.uk/files/letterofletters.pdf
Remember – this is intended for your own use. It is not intended to be sent to your customers. It is purely for you to better understand your target market. It will remind you of what you need to include in your website to appeal to your target market.
You can adapt the “Letter of Letters” for whatever market you operate in. It can be adapted to physical goods as well as to services.
We invite you to give your Ideal Customer a name. By personalising them you will sub- consciously start to talk to them & relate to them much more closely.
I hope you don’t mind me giving you that name, but as I don’t know you it helps me to visualise you better & to picture who you are.
Let me tell you what I know about you. I know that you are a GENDER who is approximately AGE years old.
You live in LOCATION & you drive a CAR TYPE.
(B2C Only) You are MARRIED STATUS and you have NUMBER CHILDREN.
(B2C Only) You work in JOB TITLE. You have been doing this for YEARS IN JOB.
This means that you have a monthly salary after tax of SALARY. Once you have paid all of your household bills you have a disposable income of DISPOSABLE INCOME each month.
(B2C Only) You like to go on holidays ______ times a year & you prefer to go to HOLIDAY REGION. Your preferred type of holiday would be PREFERRED HOLIDAY.
In terms of education you have achieved EDUCATION STATUS.
You work as a JOB TITLE. You are an EMPLOYEE/BUSINESS FOUNDER.
(B2B Only) Your Company’s Annual Turnover is £/$/€ ANNUAL TURNOVER and your company employs NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES.
(B2B Only) You operate in the following markets: LIST OF MARKETS.
You have a PURCHASING BUDGET of £/$/€ x for the product or service that I provide & I know that the timeframe for purchasing PRODUCT/SERVICE is DECISION TIMEFRAME.
I would like to explain my understanding of the issues that you face & how I can help you to address them. Before I do this, I must also point out that I do not view your business as just a single transaction. In fact, I view you very much as a long term asset of my business. The reason that I bring this to your attention is that I understand that you are worth at least LIFETIME CLIENT VALUE to my business over the coming months and years.
Now that I have raised these issues and demonstrated my understanding of your situation I would like to spend some time explaining how I can be of service to you. I know that the thing that will attract you most to me is that I can address the issue that you have of BIGGEST ISSUE. I know that my product/service will appeal to you because you require MAIN NEED as well as SECONDARY NEEDS.
Let me speak frankly. In my experience the problem with BIGGEST ISSUE is AGITATE THE PROBLEM.
I am sorry to have been so blunt, but I owe it to you to make sure that you can see that I have a thorough understanding of the situation you face. However, I do not dwell on problems. I believe that problems can always be overcome & I am someone who knows how to address your BIGGEST ISSUE. I am on your side & I would like to OFFER THE SOLUTION.
The reason that I can say this so confidently is that I can help you to address this issue head on. You see, the real benefit that we offer you is PRIMARY BENEFIT.
Not only that, I can offer you SECONDARY BENEFITS.
It may also surprise you to learn that you can also use my products/services for OTHER USES. This in turn will allow you to OTHER IMPROVEMENTS that you may not be aware of now.
Quite apart from these benefits that our product / service offers you will also be pleased to learn that there are a host of other useful features such as: USEFUL FEATURES.
Having said that, I know that you think that PRIMARY OBJECTION as well as OTHER OBJECTIONS is preventing you from taking action.
I would like to address these issues head on so that I can put your mind at rest. Firstly our product/service is OVERCOME PRIMARY OBJECTION as well as being OVERCOME OTHER OBJECTIONS.
I also understand that there is competition out there. I know that you have probably been to the websites of the following competitors of ours:
Here at YOUR COMPANY we are not afraid of competition. We see it as healthy. But there is a powerful reason why you should choose us over our competitors.
Now I’m not saying that COMPETITOR 1, COMPETITOR 2 & COMPETITOR 3 are not great companies or they don’t offer great PRODUCT/SERVICE – they do. It’s just that we offer you something over & above what they do & I’d like to explain exactly what that is.
Firstly, I know that you like to be kept up to date on issues that relate to BIGGEST ISSUE and MAIN NEED. I understand that if I fail to keep you up to date then you will lose interest in my company & PRODUCT/SERVICE. Please don’t be concerned that I will just keep sending you sales literature.
On the contrary, I will ensure that you are kept fully informed on issues that relate to you and are of interest to you. For example, in the coming months I intend to provide you with OVERCOMING INDIFFERENCE (YOUR MARKETING CALENDAR).
I’d also like to reassure you that we are so confident in what we offer that we are prepared to offer you a GUARANTEE.
However, what really sets us apart from the competition is UNIQUE SELLING POINT.
How can you trust that I will do what I say? Good question. We work with some of the leading SUPPLIERS in our industry. I have listed these below for you.
Also, we have a number of key PARTNERS who we also work with. This means that we can call in the necessary expertise when needed to ensure that we offer an end to end solution.
Don’t just take my word for it! Here are some of the results that we have achieved.
For example TESTIMONIAL PERSON 1 had the following to say about us:
TESTIMONIAL PERSON 2 said TESTIMONIAL 2.
In fact, one of the ways that we have grown our business is by asking our happy customers if they can identify other businesses that could benefit from what we offer. We do this in the following way: REFERRAL PROCESS.
Before I go I would like to finish by offering you a FREE GIFT to demonstrate my sincerity. You see, I know that you have an interest in PRODUCT/SERVICE & I would like to send you over a comprehensive, Free report which addresses the TITLE OF REPORT.
To access this amazing report now, just CALL TO ACTION.
PS: Before I leave you, I just wanted to also let you know about an UPSELL.
PPS: I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but when we get a new customer we will send them WELCOME PROCESS.
How to Use Your “Letter of Letters”
Initially you may find that you have some gaps. This is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about. As you grow in confidence you will find it easier to fill in the gaps.
The Key Points that you should really try to focus on are:
- Lifetime Client Value
- Unique Selling Point (USP)
- Biggest Issue
- Call to Action
Overall though, remember that your “Letter of Letters” is a living document. It is intended to be updated as you develop a deeper understanding of your customers.
Just the act of writing your “Letter of Letters” means that you will have a DISTINCT ADVANTAGE over your competitors. They will not have prepared anything so thorough.
Keep it safe (and an electronic back up) and keep referring back to it to help you focus your marketing efforts.
If you would like to see a completed example based on a fictional Architect, please refer to the pdf download.